Bulldogs bolstered by sophs, frosh

The women’s tennis team, currently ranked 75th in the nation, has returned from California and its spring vacation trip for its final nonconference match against Boston University April 1.

The Bulldogs kick off their Ivy League season one week later, against the University of Pennsylvania. After finishing third in the league in the 2004-05 season, the Bulldogs (9-3) hope to improve on last year’s strong performance.

Over the fall and late winter, the Bulldogs have played well in the Yale Fall Invitational, Rice Tennis Classic, and the USTA College Tennis Invitational and going into their recent trip, the team was undefeated with a 7-0 record this spring.

On the trip, the Bulldogs posted a mediocre 3-3 record. They were able to dominate weaker opponents, notching impressive wins against Syracuse and Cal State Northridge. But they struggled against tougher competition, falling in closely-contested matches to a trio of ranked teams — then-ranked No. 75 Cal Irvine, No. 41 Rice and No. 54 San Diego.

They also had trouble with consistency, failing to string together two victories in a row.

Although the Bulldogs were disappointed with the losses, especially against the Anteaters and the Owls, the team for the most part pleased with its play on the West Coast.

“Overall, it’s been a good trip,” captain Stephanie White ’05 said. “We should have beaten Cal Irvine and Rice, which was kind of disappointing but exciting at the same time.”

The trip was productive for the team, giving the players a chance to bond with each other and prepare for the remainder of the spring season, team members said.

In a call with the team while the Bulldogs were in California last week, all team members were in good spirits and enjoying the challenge of taking on higher-ranked teams.

“I’m really optimistic about the spring and we’re hoping to keep the momentum going,” Aimee Kim ’07 said.

The Bulldogs have gone out strong this spring under the leadership of their two seniors: White and Reshmi Srinath ’05. Olivia Nix ’07 said White has played well but has also been integral in boosting team morale.

“Stephanie has been doing great,” she said. “She gets us pumped up for matches.”

Nix is one of four sophomores on a young, yet talented Eli team. The Bulldogs, which feature just three upperclassmen — White, Srinath and Juliette Vartikar ’06 — also bolster a pair of talented freshmen in Lindsey Dashiell ’08 and Catherine Starr ’08, both of whom have already seen a lot of match play this year.

The spring break matches served as tune-ups for the important matches this spring against Ivy League rivals.

White predicts that the Bulldogs will do well in Ancient Eight competition. She said Harvard and Penn are the favorites to win the conference title, but added that the Bulldogs should not be counted out.

“[We] expect to beat everybody else,” White said. “But there are no easy wins.”

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